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Operations

Mass. EMS Agency Adopts Therapy Dog

MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.

Freddie is a 13-week Goldendoodle with a new job. He will serve as an emotional support animal for American Medical Response emergency medical technicians in Western Massachusetts.

Operations supervisor Melissa Piscitelli is his full-time trainer and will be caring for him until he is old enough to care for others.

“Freddie’s new role is making people smile. That’s basically it. Because he started here at such a young age, he’s going to know the emotions of the employees when they come back from a long day,” said Piscitelli. “From everything they see on the road, he reminds them that the world is good and here’s a smile for you.”

Piscitelli added that he's going to be interacting with employees at AMR, to learn their emotions. “Learning when they need a hug, when they just need somebody to sit and listen to them sometimes, even if it is a furry face.”

He still has to pass several different tests with the therapy dog team but is well on the way there with his laid-back demeanor.

The choice for the breed, a Goldendoodle, was because his fur is allergy-friendly. Freddie is the first therapy dog in the Northeast for the ambulatory company.

Freddie has been named to honor a long-time American Medical Response employee, Fred DellaValle, who passed in 2018.

“He was just very special to all of us. He passed away in February [2018] but he taught us all a lot. He loved AMR, he loved our employees, he wanted to take care of all of us and this is just a continuation of him taking care of all of us,” Piscitelli said.

In many high stress jobs where people’s lives are on the line, the pressure of the job can mean that individuals develop symptoms of depression or post traumatic stress disorder.

A recent study released by the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine has shown that overall symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are less intense among war veterans who have trained PTSD service dogs.

On the wall of the AMR office in Springfield hangs 96 framed certificates. Each one is for a cardiac arrest where the patient was subsequently discharged from the hospital to go home to their families as a direct result of the care given.

“Each one of those calls has affected a dispatcher, EMT, paramedic, firefighter, police officers and then the hospital staff,” said Piscitelli. “One call affects a lot of people and Freddie will be able to lend a smile at the end of the day from calls like that.”

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